What kinds of documents and papers one needs for the entry to Germany depends mainly on where he or she comes from and on how long he or she wants to stay in Germany. It is important to get the necessary information and to put together all the papers quite early and in time before the studies abroad.
In general there are the following rules: For citizens from the EU or from the countries Island, Norway, Switzerland or Liechtenstein it is only necessary to have an identity card to entry Germany. It is not necessary to have a visa. Citizens from other countries instead need a visa if they stay in Germany for more than 90 days. There are some more rules for the visa application as well. Citizens from the countries Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea and the USA can apply for their visa even after they arrived in Germany. For citizens from other countries it is necessary to apply for the visa before coming to Germany.
If staying less than 90 days in Germany there are even more regulations. Citizens from certain countries can entry Germany for this time without a visa. These are Venezuela, Vatican City, Uruguay, Singapore, Seychelles, Paraguay, Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico, Mauritius, Malaysia, Macau, Croatia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Chile, Brunei, Brazil, Bolivia, Bermuda, Barbados, Bahamas and Argentina.
More detailed information and lists of the certain countries can also be found on the webpage of SchengenVisaInfo or by going to the consulate or the German embassy in one’s home country. For those who just want to go to Germany for one semester there are also information councilors at the home university.